4 Ways to Reduce the Risks of Injuries at Open Houses and Showings

Posted by Hannah Smith on Aug 08, 2019 12:15 PM EDT
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A great deal of planning goes into selling a home. There's the staging, the scheduling of open houses, and the upkeep of the home until a potential buyer is found. But one thing sellers often overlook is the potential for injuries. What if someone slips, falls and injures themselves while touring the home? 

The goal should always be to minimize the risk of an injury in the first place. Here are four tips to reduce the risk of injury during an open house or showing.

1. Identify Potential Hazards

One of the first things that needs to be done is to identify potential hazards that may cause injury. It's impossible to prepare for every single potential injury, but identifying potential dangers can help minimize the risk.

"Homeowners are responsible for providing a safe environment for people on their property, especially invited guests," says injury lawyer Matthew L. Sharp. "Most liability injury claims result from slip and fall accidents, swimming pool accidents, and dog bites."

Both the agent and the homeowners should walk through the home to identify and eliminate these potential problems. For example, if there's an area rug in the living room that slides easily, it may be best to remove it from the room. Potential buyers or their children could easily trip, slip, fall and become injured while walking through the room.

A few things you may want to do:

  • Open all doors and windows prior to open houses or showings. The less the buyer's touch, the better.

  • Advise parents to hold their children's hands while walking through the home.

  • Have potential buyers sign a liability waiver if the property is especially risky (e.g. a construction site).

2. Keep Pets and Livestock Secured

Pets and livestock can be a liability during an open house or showing. Even the best-behaved animals can be unpredictable. Dog bites and dog-related injuries account for over one-third of all liability claims among homeowners. 

Along with the risk of bites, there's also the possibility that the potential buyers are allergic to the animals. For this reason, it's best to keep all pets outside of the home or secured in an area where buyers are not likely to go.

Anyone who is viewing the property should be warned that there is an animal on the premises, and to avoid the area where the animal is contained. 

3. Warn of Hazards

If there are any hazards that potential buyers may face, make sure to warn them of it. Place clearly marked signs warning of the hazard. You may also want to take photos of the sign and placement to serve as evidence that you warned of the dangerous condition.

4. Check Insurance Coverage

The sellers should also take the time to review their homeowner's insurance policy. If there are animals on the property, the seller should ensure that their insurance will cover bites or other injuries caused by pets. 

Injuries can and do happen during showings and open houses. Minimizing the risk of injury is key, and careful planning can go a long way in making the home's sale as smooth as possible.

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